STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Governor Gavin Newsom announced expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people who accompany someone eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Toni McNeil, the lead community organizer with Faith in the Valley, says they’ll be ramping up outreach to the public.
“We’re gonna have to speed up our efforts to inform,” McNeil said. “We don’t necessarily tell people what to do but we do want to encourage people to get the information to make informed decisions.”
Starting April 1, people 50 years and older can begin to be vaccinated and by April 15, everyone 16 years and older will also be eligible.
That was welcoming news to San Joaquin County public health services educator Daniel Kim.
“We’re definitely looking forward to being able to vaccinate everybody who wants to get a vaccine,” said Kim. “The county’s ready to be able to meet the capacity in terms of the number of sites and personnel to do the vaccination events, but again, it’s really going to be the amount of vaccine that we’re going to get, that’s going to determine, you know, how fast and how soon we can get to everybody.
Newsom also announced, starting Thursday, family members who accompany someone eligible can also get a shot, that announcement caught the county off guard.
“That was surprise news to us,” Kim said.
Kim says it will take the county a few days before they can accommodate family members at the already scheduled appointments.
“It is going to be quite a number of people we’ll be dealing with fairly quickly but the timeframe. We believe that the county is ready for it,” Kim said.
The county can track and schedule a second dose if needed.
For McNeil and other organziers, it will be a scramble to get the new information out to the communities but he believes this will have the biggest impact on the communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
“You have multiple generations of folks that are living in one household, you know, from 16 all the way to 60, 70. And so, you know… that is an actual wise approach to the hard to reach communities,” McNeil said.
Both organizers and the county are hoping, expanded access to vaccines means the county can move from the purple tier, the most restrictive tier sooner.
“We’re hoping to see less people become ill, and therefore our numbers improving to be able to open up more businesses,” Kim said.